The Novels in You

Ever wonder how many novels you have in you? Sometimes I’m sitting on the subway, watching the stations pass and hoping I get to work on time, and a novel I’d forgotten I wanted to write bubbles up and buzzes around my ears, trying to get my attention. A new title will come, a new plot twist. A character’s name will emerge. An image that belongs to that unwritten novel and that unwritten novel alone is clear as day on the subway bench across from me and I’m almost reluctant to leave the train, for fear I’ll walk up the stairs and hit the surface streets and forget it forever.

You can write it down, but it’s not the same as seeing it in full-focus, in that moment. It’s an immediacy that I have a hard time finding my way back to.

How many unwritten novels are in me at the moment? I’m counting… OMG (yes, this deserves an OMG), I’ve got nine.

Statistics: They’re spread out over the ages—four are probably upper YA, though two of those could be crossover, two are tween/middle-grade, and three desperately want to be taken seriously as literary fiction. They’re focused in place: three take place in New York City, though in different time periods, and all the rest are scattered throughout the Hudson Valley of upstate New York, where I’m from. All are about women or girls. Not all are in first-person, though most might be. They all have arguments in their favor. They’re fighting one another right now, to see who’s up next.

It’s dangerous, to think of a future novel when your present novel is not yet done. Later, I tell the future novels, please wait for later.

So how many unwritten novels do you have swimming around in you today?

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